Outdoor Matters

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Family Climbing Venues

I often get asked by parents where the best place is to take their kids climbing in South Wales or on Gower. More info on these crags can be found in one of my Guidebooks, or on the South Wales Climbing Wiki.


Assuming you have the skills to set up a top rope and belay (get in touch if not) then there are a few things to look for in a good family friendly climbing spot:

  • Safe to get to – no abseiling, big drops or sketchy scrambles to reach the bottom of the crag.

  • Safe to be at – no worries about falling rock, big drops, loose ground or other hazards.

  • Easy to set up a top rope – with good gear in good rock, access to the top and bottom and no sharp rock trying to cut your ropes up.

  • Nice to climb – friendly angles, solid rock, clean and covered in holds.

  • An ice cream to finish (a bonus, but important!)

With this in mind I have the following suggestions for family friendly climbing venues:

Dinas Rock:

Overview – A solid slab of rock in a car park on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Bolted anchors in place so rigging is easy. Sheltered from the worst of the weather. Right next to the car park, so no long walk to get there.

Cons – Can be VERY busy with outdoor centres. Polished holds are a real challenge to use in the wet.

Notes – A short rigging rope (10m) can be used to join 2 of the anchor bolts together to rig a climb. The lines are all about the same grade, 20+m high on the left down to 10m high on the right.



Morlais Quarry:

Overview – An impressive but polished expanse of rock near Merthyr with views of the Beacons.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Lots of options from 4m high toddler walls to 20+m high climbs. Short flat walk in if you brave the dodgy parking.

Cons – VERY polished on the popular lines and a grim hell hole when wet and windy. Uphill approach if using the safe parking by the pub.

Notes – Rigging off stakes, and (sometimes fiddly) trad gear. Long rigging rope (20m+) needed for most areas.



Hurberts Quarry:

Overview – A small wall topped with plenty of stakes with views over Carmarthenshire and Mid Wales.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Easy to rig and short (3min) approach.

Cons – High up (500m) so feels cool and is exposed to the weather, so best in summer.

Notes – Edge protectors required for rigging ropes, some loose rock, not the best for very small climbers.



Box Bay:

Overview – A square bay of rock on the Porthcawl sea front with 15m high routes from easy to hard.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Lots of choice, mostly slightly slabby, plenty of natural gear to rig from, good friction on most of the rock.

Cons – Tidal (6hr window around LW), rock is very sharp in places. Don’t fall in the rock pools!

Notes – Check the tide before you go. Care required on the scramble down. Lots of options for climbs that aren’t in the guide/ on the wiki.



Mewslade:

Overview – A short sheltered slab of smooth rock tucked away in an idyllic setting. Perfect for small adventurers.

Pros – Easy to rig off stakes, friendly angle and a safe location to play around on the ground.

Location - Google Maps

Cons – Hard in the wet. Brambles can encroach on the base and stinging nettles on the top stakes.

Notes – 5 min approach from Mewslade Car park. The caves are good for an explore too.



Boiler Slab:

Overview – Big (30m) slab of rock along the coast from Port Eynon, with a secret lower tier (8m) on a wave washed platform.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Dries super fast, great routes, easy to rig on natural gear, awesome views.

Cons – Catches the wind, 25 min approach (adult legs).

Notes – Not one for a quick hit, but worth making a day of. 50m rope will reach the base if you drop your rigging rope 3m over the top, or start from the ledge 1/3 way up.



Little Tor:

Overview – Mini headland in Tor Bay with routes straight off the sand.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Awesome views, easy to rig off bolts.

Cons – Sandy shoes don’t grip so well. Not the best for smaller adventurers. Tidal (8hr window around LW). 20 min walk in, routes feel steep.

Notes – These a cheeky exposed step to reach the bolts on the ledge 2/3rds the way up the Tor, just be careful as you make the step and don’t put your hand on the spiky gorse! Watch out for the swing if you climb off line.



Three Cliffs:

Overview – An iconic climbing venue with incredible views and

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Easy to rig the left hand side, lots of holds and mostly good friction.

Cons – Can be packed with tourists and other climbers. Awkward rock base to start/belay from. Tidal (6hr window around LW). Bit of a mission to get to (30mins)

Notes – Scramble up on the left to get to the rigging ledge.



Pobbles:

Overview – Not quite Three Cliffs, but lots more options and grater grade range.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Great views, good rock, so much choice.  Sandy playground underneath when not underwater.

Cons – Tricky to find good gear on some sections. (8hr window around LW).

Notes – There are a number of walls between the small bay of Pobbles and Three Cliffs such as Two Tier Slab and Rainbow Wall, see what takes your fancy.



Pobbles East Slab:

Overview – A smooth easy angled slab tucked away to the east of Pobbles bay.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Solid rock and easy to rig from the boulders above.

Cons – Awkward to belay on the left. Tidal (8hr window around LW).

Notes – Approach from above, drop down left after the sandy path if coming from Southgate.



Heatherslade:

Overview – Tucked under the NT car park at Southgate are a couple of nice little crags.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Short (5min) approach.

Cons – Tidal (6-8hr window around LW).

Notes – Take the valley just east of the car park, one easy crag is directly left of the concreate ramp, the other is found by walking left (east) and is in the first deep zawn. Approach can be make by abseil or by walking around from the concrete ramp.

 

Caswell:

Overview – A classic beach destination with some climbing worth seeking out. 

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Ice cream on tap, great views, solid rock. Short (10min) approach

Cons – Tidal (4-5hr window around LW). Parking can be VERY busy in summer.

Notes – Best section is found by walking right (west) a few hundred metres and has a cave on the left. Scramble around to access the top.



Mumbles Head:

Overview – An old quarried face with large steps to negotiate.

Location - Google Maps

Pros – Solid rock and easy to rig from the large metal rings above. Short (5min) approach.

Cons – Tidal (6-8hr window around LW).

Notes – Easiest approach from the Pier beach, but less tidal from the Big Apple car park.